Looking at the data
The logical connection between lengthy loading times and reductions in sales and a lower user experience seems obvious. But we’re not going to ask you to take this on faith or even take our word for it.
Fortunately, the data makes a fairly compelling case.
Website speed drives and bounce rate
Studies going back to 2018 have shown that bounce rates ramp up quickly as the average loading time increases. For laptop and desktop users, there is a rapid escalation in the number of people who simply abandon a site once the loading time hits 4 seconds. Whereas the rate only climbs from 7% for websites that load within 1 second to 11% for those that require 3 seconds, once the delay hits 4 seconds, the bounce rate more than doubles to 24%. By the point that a website takes 7 seconds to load, more than half of users will leave before engaging.
Meanwhile, mobile users are an incredibly valuable subset of your audience and are even more likely to abandon a slow-loading site. As Googlehas shown, raising the delay for users from 1 to 3 seconds makes them 32% more likely to leave. A 5-second loading time has a 90% higher bound rate than a 1-second loading time. This drastic gap demonstrates the vast difference in the user experience when website speed changes.
The impact on conversation rates
Obviously, if users are leaving your website very early in the process, it’s going to have a negative impact on your final sales numbers. But what does the data show with regards to successful conversions?
As with bounce rates, there is a clear correlation between slower website speeds and lower conversion rates. For B2B sites, a site that completes the loading process within 1 second converts leads three times more frequently than those that require 5 seconds. B2C experienced only a slightly lower difference, with a 1-second loading time leading to 2.5 times the number of e-commerce conversions.
In addition goal conversions only show a similar disparity between fast and slow websites. Those resources that load within 1 second see a goal conversion rate of approximately 40%. When the loading time rises to 2 seconds, conversions drop to 34%. An additional increase to a 3-second loading time results in a further decrease in conversion rate to 29%.
To this point, we’ve looked primarily at the practical numbers that will directly and clearly impact your revenue. However, a lengthy waiting period doesn’t just result purely in the temporary loss of converted leads. Often enough, consumers who attempt to interact with a website, only to find that it loads too slowly, will refuse to return. This kind of reputational damage can have longer term impacts, as your business loses the potential for multiple sales across an extended period of time.
What does this look like exactly?
Nearly 70% of survey respondents claimed that loading speed factors into their decision to make a purchase.
45.4% become less likely to buy.
36.8% are less likely to even return to the website at all.
11.9% would be likely to tell their friends about the experience.
More than half of respondents are willing to give up animations or videos to improve load speed.
So, we can see that loading times are a major factor into general customer decision making related to purchases. However, a large number of those consumers that would be less likely to buy through a slow website will also likely never return. And while only a small number would communicate this to other shoppers, this can still cause a substantial drag on your sales numbers.
Of particular note is that last point. While design is an important part of the sales process, it arguably is not paramount. It would seem that many customers would trade some more engaging visual elements for a faster and smoother buying journey. This means that it might not be an “either-or” situation as you can likely appeal to a larger audience with faster loading times.